Senate rules chairman urges Crist to veto ‘unconstitutional mess’ teacher pay billby Dara Kam | April 14th, 2010
Sen. Alex Villalobos, the Republican Rules Committee chairman, joined a slew of Democratic lawmakers urging Gov. Charlie Crist to veto the contentious teacher pay bill.
But Villalobos used a different tack to persuade the governor, who has until midnight Friday to act on the measure (SB 6): it’s a “constitutional mess.”
Villalobos argued in a letter to Crist sent Tuesday that the bill that virtually eliminates job security for teachers and bases their salary increases on how well their students perform on standardized tests poses a host of potential constitutional problems.
The bill impinges on local school boards’ control over the schools in their districts; violates the collective bargaining rights of school employees; imposes an unfunded mandate on every school district; and unconstitutionally delegates public school rule-making authority to the Department of Education, Villalobos, a lawyer, wrote.
And it violates teachers’ due process rights by not giving them a way to challenge the new standards in court, Villalobos argued.
Villalobos was one of four Republicans who voted against the bill.
SB 6 gives education department officials “unfettered rulemaking authority” to create the standardized tests, evaluation methods, compensation and evaluation procedures, among other things, Villalobos wrote. State agencies are limited in their rule-making authority to statutory guidelines.
“Yet the proponents of Senate Bill 6, when acknowledging the inherent unintended consequences and reach of the bill, constantly seek to reassure critiques that the ‘agency’ will ‘fix it’ in rulemaking,” Villalobos wrote.
“No agency can fix what it does not have the specific power to address, no matter how broken it may be. The only fix for Senate Bill 6 is your exercise of your veto authority,” Villalobos, R-Miami, went on.
“With all due respect, Governor, Senate Bill 6 is a constitutional mess. I urge you to exercise your power of veto to begin the process of cleaning it up.”